Cognitive Prostheses

The sense-represent-plan-act picture is a heroic one, but it is biologically implausible. I don't need to memorize the layout of the physical environment around me — this desk, this room, this city, this country. After all, the desk, room, city are there before me and we are built — through evolution — to have ready sensory access to it.

Shut your eyes. Can you remember the detailed layout around you? It turns out that beyond the broad outlines — the basic schematic organization of what is where — you probably cannot. But this is no cause for alarm. We have quick and easy access to the world around us, through eye movements, head movements, body movements.

Does it actually even seem to you as if you have a detailed model of the world around you in your head? Be careful. Yes, it seems to you as if the world is there for you. But not in your head. It'sthere. Around you. In reach. And we are made — through evolution — to get the information we need, when we need it.

We have evolved not to be representers-of-the-world, but to lock-in and keep track of where we find ourselves. We use landmarks and street signs to find our way around; arithmetical notation makes it possible for us to calculate with big numbers; we wear wrist watches so that we can know the time without needing to know the time; and we build libraries so that we have access to what we need to know, when we need to know it.


Google doesn't make us stupider by letting us get by without having to remember things we can retrieve, and the idea that it does comes from a misunderstanding about how humans remember things and how we have always used technology to supplement our memories.

Folksonomies: technology society memory change

/style and fashion/beauty/cosmetics/eyeshadow (0.489234)
/technology and computing (0.487057)
/art and entertainment/visual art and design/design (0.392041)

basic schematic organization (0.961227 (negative:-0.522482)), Cognitive Prostheses (0.807127 (negative:-0.582706)), sense-represent-plan-act picture (0.781960 (positive:0.455408)), Shut your eyes (0.753449 (neutral:0.000000)), eye movements (0.743653 (positive:0.320674)), body movements (0.742790 (neutral:0.000000)), physical environment (0.729106 (negative:-0.257143)), arithmetical notation (0.726884 (negative:-0.232007)), head movements (0.717389 (neutral:0.000000)), wrist watches (0.713837 (neutral:0.000000)), broad outlines (0.709166 (negative:-0.522482)), sensory access (0.707978 (neutral:0.000000)), street signs (0.685889 (negative:-0.339228)), big numbers (0.683555 (negative:-0.232007)), easy access (0.677226 (positive:0.675625)), world (0.524464 (positive:0.697188)), desk (0.497403 (negative:-0.257143)), layout (0.487199 (positive:0.113487)), room (0.463033 (neutral:0.000000)), city (0.462904 (neutral:0.000000)), evolution (0.456553 (positive:0.283494)), things (0.455617 (negative:-0.582706)), time (0.428168 (neutral:0.000000)), idea (0.389433 (neutral:0.000000)), humans (0.388687 (neutral:0.000000)), memories (0.387264 (neutral:0.000000)), technology (0.385838 (neutral:0.000000)), landmarks (0.385792 (negative:-0.339228)), Google (0.385650 (negative:-0.582706)), alarm (0.382179 (negative:-0.749063))

Ecology (0.949071): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Need to know (0.930945): dbpedia | freebase | yago
Life (0.929075): dbpedia | freebase
Evolution (0.903026): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Prince (0.838002): website | dbpedia | freebase | opencyc | yago
Natural environment (0.732064): dbpedia | freebase
Watch (0.729476): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Earth (0.725455): dbpedia | freebase

 Google Is Not Making You Stupid
Electronic/World Wide Web>Blog:  Noe, Alva (9/20/2011), Google Is Not Making You Stupid, National Public Radio (NPR), Retrieved on 2011-09-20
  • Source Material []
  • Folksonomies: technology society